When Russian forces first invaded Ukraine earlier this year, Mila Kunis and her husband Ashton Kutcher immediately reacted to help the country where Kunis was born.
The couple launched Stand With Ukraine, a GoFundMe benefiting two organizations — flexport.org and airbnb.org — that are offering supplies and short-term housing to the millions of people who’ve been displaced.
Kunis and Kutcher’s effort has raised more than $37 million to date, and the mission continues.
“We can’t become desensitized,” Kunis tells People for the magazine’s 2022 People of the Year issue. “Helping — not even asking, just doing — should be our standard norm.”
The “Luckiest Girl Alive” actress, who was born in the then-Soviet city of Chernivtsi in 1983, now located in present-day Ukraine, contributed $3 million to the fundraiser herself.
Kunis and her husband were able to mobilize Stand With Ukraine so quickly because they “didn’t have time to overthink things,” she says. “There were problems we knew we could help solve. So Ashton and I said, ‘Okay, let’s do this.’ Within 24 hours, we had GoFundMe on board.”
Though it’s certainly been a tough year, Kunis, whose “never been more proud to be from Ukraine,” shares that her children have given her the most hope. The actress is a mom to her and Kutcher’s daughter Wyatt, 8, and son Dimitri, 6.
“They have this natural ability to provide empathy without having to be taught,” Kunis says. “They have the desire to help without having to be asked.”
“Kids today think more globally than I was raised to. It makes them aware the world around them is so much bigger,” she adds.
The actress notes that her and Kutcher have given their kids “enough to understand what’s happening in the world without the details.” She explains that they know Russia and Ukraine are at war and that innocent people are dying, but “we don’t watch the news with them,” she says. “They don’t need the visuals.”
While Kunis believes it’s never too early for kids to understand how big the world is, there’s also a part of her that wants to protect her own children “from the things they don’t even know are possible,” especially since her daughter is “very sensitive.”
“When we read Charlie and the Chocolate Factory together, she was like, ‘That boy is starving! Why won’t they feed him?’,” Kunis shares. “I thought, ‘Kid, you are not ready for this world.’”
Kunis’s People of the Year issue, which hits newsstands on Dec. 2, is one of four covers alongside Matthew McConaughey, Quinta Brunson and Jennifer Hudson.